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Proposals to limit hatchery operations go before Board of Fish

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

A suite of proposals set to go before the Board of Fisheries want to limit hatchery operations in Lower Cook Inlet.

Seven proposals for the upcoming Lower Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting in Seward in December address hatchery operations, with six looking to limit the number of fish they can raise or harvest and where they can operate.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, a Kenai-based nonprofit hatchery, operates two hatcheries on the south side of Kachemak Bay — one at Port Graham and one at Tutka Bay. Both raise predominantly pink salmon and host commercial fisheries. In recent years, with increasing use and visibility, the Tutka Bay Hatchery has come under additional scrutiny from the public. Pink salmon hatcheries have also come under fire for reports of high numbers of stray Prince William Sound hatchery pinks in wild streams in the Lower Cook Inlet area for the last few years.

One proposal seeks to limit the overall number of salmon private nonprofit hatcheries could harvest in cost recovery harvest while one seeks to cut back the number of salmon allowed to be harvested at Tutka Bay specifically. Another seeks to eliminate the special harvest area at Tutka Bay used for cost recovery harvest, while two others change the closed areas within Tutka Bay to commercial fishing activities. Another would eliminate the Halibut Cove Lagoon Special Harvest Area.

The Board of Fisheries will accept public comment on the proposals until Nov. 25.